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Spring 2012 Reading

27 June, 2012

As usual when I do these occasional book posts, I’m not going to go through every single thing I’ve read over the last six months. Instead, I just want to focus on the books and authors I’ve loved, in the hopes that others will discover their work for the first time and love them as much as I have. So, what’s on the list this time?

‘Tigana’ – Guy Gavriel Kay.     I’m going to start with my absolute favourite. It’s fair to say that I’ve read a good number of fantasy books, and that Tigana has got to be one of the most accomplished I’ve ever come across. It’s long, and complex, and beautifully written, and more subtle than the majority of books I’ve read in any genre. Kay’s characters are remarkably well-drawn, and the novel as a whole is heart-breaking half a dozen times over. If you can read Tigana and not cry at Dianora’s story at least once, then I’m fairly certain you’ve misplaced your heart.

‘The Kingdom of Gods’ and ‘The Killing Moon’ – N.K. Jemisin.     With these two books, Jemisin has ended one trilogy and started a duology (of which the second book is already available). I’d be lying if I said I loved the two equally – The Kingdom of Gods just edged ahead for me, due to already knowing the characters and having loved them through the two previous books. The Killing Moon is an excellent fantasy too, though, with an Egyptian-inspired setting, a brilliant magic system and Jemisin’s strong characterisation. I think I’ve said before that Jemisin is on my (very short) list of authors whose books I’ll buy no matter what they write – these two latest books have only confirmed that.

‘The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle’ – Haruki Murukami.     This is the first Murukami novel I read and so far my favourite (I also read Kafka on the Shore recently, but it didn’t really click with me). It’s a strange, meandering, surreal book, and no matter where it might get shelved in bookshops, it seems to me a sort of modern fantasy of the urban-but-having-nothing-to-do-with-vampires variety. Instead you get war stories and wig factories, a missing wife and, er… a bloke who spends a lot of time sitting in a well. It sounds incredibly dull, but there’s something about Murukami’s writing (in translation, of course) and the way he builds his plots that’s weirdly compelling.

‘Wither’ – Lauren DeStefano.     I don’t read a lot of YA fiction but Wither is an impressive debut from DeStefano and well worth a look. There’s more than a touch of The Handmaid’s Tale about it, with a cloistered world of husbands and multiple wives who don’t survive past their 20s. Some of the science might be a bit suspect, but this is a story about the characters most of all, with plenty of shades of grey in every personality, be they ostensibly hero or villain. I also thought it was wonderfully written, and I suspect DeStefano could be one to watch in coming years.

So, that’s what’s been taking up room on my bookshelves recently (and, ahem, being read when I should have been working). What about yours?

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